Punjab Gets First Dalit CM As Channi Takes Oath, Appeals To Centre To Repeal Farm Laws

Charanjit Singh Channi (File Image)

Amid factional feuds and turf war in the Congress in Punjab months ahead of assembly polls, the new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday took the oath of office along with two Deputy Chief Ministers – O P Soni and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa at Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh.

In picking up Channi, the Congress gave preference to a Dalit face and as the 16th chief minister of the state, he becomes the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab, succeeding Captain Amarinder Singh who resigned two days ago abruptly following months of turmoil, infighting and bitter turf war in the party. Mr Channi is considered close to cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who was made in-charge of the party’s state unit earlier. The oath-taking ceremony was attended by senior Congress leader and former president of the party Rahul Gandhi but Capt. Amarinder Singh did not turn up at Raj Bhawan.

Addressing the media later in the afternoon flanked by Navjot Singh Sidhu and senior party leader Harish Rawat, Mr Channi appealed to the Centre to repeal the contentious farm laws. Declaring himself an “Aam Aadmi”, he said that he is representative of the common man, the farmer and anyone who is oppressed. “I am not a representative of the rich. Those who do sand mining and other such activities, don’t come and meet me…I am not your representative. I am with the farmers”, said the new Chief Minister.

He said Congress has respected a poor man and expressed his gratitude to Rahul Gandhi, Capt. Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress chief Sidhu and the MLAs. Congress has given me a chance to serve Punjab and I will represent the poor,” the CM said. He said that caste, colour and creed is irrelevant.

He announced that pending power and water bills will be written off and power connections will be restored. “Power will continue to be free in Punjab. Water will also be free,’” he said adding that the government will also reduce the power tariffs in the state.

Mr Channi was congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said in a tweet, “will continue to work with you for the betterment of people”.

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